What are proxies?
A proxy, as explained in computer science, refers to an application that connects clients and severs in a network.
The clients make requests to access resources via the proxy server.
The proxy server has a primary function of evaluating and simplifying the client’s requests and then connecting them to their destination server.
Proxies can be divided into two major categories: Open and Reverse proxies.
An open proxy is a proxy that is used to retrieve data anywhere on the internet. It also commonly known as forward proxy.
An open proxy can further be broken down into two: Anonymous and Transparent proxy.
Anonymous proxy doesn’t reveal the initial IP address and instead identifies itself as a server. On the other hand, transparent proxy doesn’t conceal its IP address.
The second type of proxy is the reverse proxy. Reverse proxy poses as an ordinary server. It forwards requests to several ordinary servers which receive the request as if it were coming form another ordinary server.
In a set up that includes reverse proxy, a client will have no idea of where their requests have been processed as they will appear to be coming from the reverse proxy.
This proxy can as well be termed as a SOCKS proxy because it uses the SOCKS protocol to exchange communication.
What are the uses of proxies?
Proxies have several purposes which are evident in the various functionalities of proxies. One of the major uses of proxy server is supplementing server access speed where you can certainly use a proxy server that is hosted near a website data-center. The higher access speed is attributed to the shorter distance incurred during the communication between the client and the proxy server.
Additionally, proxies can be used to mask one’s IP address to use the same IP over and over. For instance, while accessing a particular social profile e.g. Facebook, using the same IP but from multiple computers will not raise FB’s suspicion.
Another important function of proxy is for the provision of security. This is achieved by hiding the IP address of the client while on the network. The proxy server is a link between the client and the internet to protect them from unauthorized access by attackers. This is achieved by bouncing the connection over a relay network, making it hard for anyone to trace your real IP address.
Having discussed on proxies, it is important to note that they can be thought of as points of communication exchange. For this communication exchange to occur, there is need for rules that govern the communication.
These rules are called protocol.
There are several types of protocols which have different uses. Several examples of protocols include, HTTP which is formed on the basis of a client server model. It enables communication between a web client and a web server.
HTTPS is a secure version of the HTTP protocol. The ‘S’ at the end of the abbreviations stands for secure. This means communication between the client and the server is encrypted.
SOCKS is a type of protocol that governs the SOCKS proxy. SOCKS proxy is a general purpose server which makes a TCP connection to another server on behalf of the client. Originally, SOCKS was used as a security protocol used for the administration of security products.
In addition, SOCKS is also used as a circumvention tool which allows traffic to have access to content that had been originally blocked. An example of SOCKS application is in the Tor browser.